For many investors, the main point of stock picking is to generate higher returns than the overall market. But if you try your hand at stock picking, your risk returning less than the market. We regret to report that long term Sensient Technologies Corporation (NYSE:SXT) shareholders have had that experience, with the share price dropping 46% in three years, versus a market return of about 3.2%. And over the last year the share price fell 35%, so we doubt many shareholders are delighted. The falls have accelerated recently, with the share price down 35% in the last three months. However, one could argue that the price has been influenced by the general market, which is down 29% in the same timeframe.
While the efficient markets hypothesis continues to be taught by some, it has been proven that markets are over-reactive dynamic systems, and investors are not always rational. One imperfect but simple way to consider how the market perception of a company has shifted is to compare the change in the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price movement.
During the three years that the share price fell, Sensient Technologies’s earnings per share (EPS) dropped by 11% each year. The share price decline of 19% is actually steeper than the EPS slippage. So it seems the market was too confident about the business, in the past.
The image below shows how EPS has tracked over time (if you click on the image you can see greater detail).
It’s probably worth noting we’ve seen significant insider buying in the last quarter, which we consider a positive. That said, we think earnings and revenue growth trends are even more important factors to consider. It might be well worthwhile taking a look at our free report on Sensient Technologies’s earnings, revenue and cash flow.
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). The TSR incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. So for companies that pay a generous dividend, the TSR is often a lot higher than the share price return. As it happens, Sensient Technologies’s TSR for the last 3 years was -43%, which exceeds the share price return mentioned earlier. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
We regret to report that Sensient Technologies shareholders are down 34% for the year (even including dividends) . Unfortunately, that’s worse than the broader market decline of 17%. Having said that, it’s inevitable that some stocks will be oversold in a falling market. The key is to keep your eyes on the fundamental developments. Regrettably, last year’s performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 6.8% per year over five years. Generally speaking long term share price weakness can be a bad sign, though contrarian investors might want to research the stock in hope of a turnaround. It’s always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand Sensient Technologies better, we need to consider many other factors. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We’ve identified 4 warning signs with Sensient Technologies , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.
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